- :Dr. Javid Iqbal
Dr. Javid Iqbal
Dr. Javid Iqbal
The problem of evil has baffled many thinkers. Evil is not mere darkness that vanishes when light arrives. In other words, evil does not have a negative existence. This darkness has as positive an existence as light. The problem is how to account for evil in a world created by an all-good God? Rumis answer is that the existence of evil is necessary for the fulfilment of the divine plan. Goethe thinks that evil is the reverse of good. Without evil, it would not be possible to identify good. Iqbal is of the view that the running parallel lines of good and evil meet in infinity. He points out in one of his quatrains:
How may I describe good & evil?
The problem is complex, the tongue falters,
Upon the bough you see flowers and thorns,
Inside it there is neither flower nor thorn.
(Paya¯m i Mashriq)
Rumis long poem titled "Muawiyah & Iblis", Goethes Faust and Iqbals verses dedicated to Satan can be considered as great diabolical apologies in the world literature. The three poets blend the "classical" with the "romantic", and despite the gaps in the times of their lives, their ideas on the role of evil in the spiritual and material development of man are similar.
In Iqbals poetic vision, Rumi and Goethe meet in paradise. Goethe reads out to him the tale of the pact between the Doctor and the Devil, and Rumi pays tribute to him in these words:
O portrayer of the inmost soul
Of poetry, whose efforts goal
Is to trap an angel in his net
And to hunt even God.
You from sharp observations know,
How in their shell pearls form & grow,
All this you know, but there is more.
Not all can learn loves secret lore,
Not all can enter its high shrine,
One only knows by grace divine,
That reason is from the Devil,
While love is from Adam.
("Jalal and Goethe"Paya¯m i Mashriq)
When Goethe became acquainted with Rumis Mathnavi through German translations, he found it too complicated and confusing as he initially failed to fathom the depths of Rumis thought. Iqbal had an identical experience of lack of comprehension and in his early stage of life mistakenly believed that Rumi was a pantheistic Sufi.
In the revealed scriptures, evil is connected with the story of the creation of Adam or, in Rumis words, when man in the process of evolution, had passed through the stages of plant & animal life and arrived at the stage from where he was to develop into superior forms of life.
When God informed the angels that he was about to place Adam on Earth in His stead, and that Adam would be granted freedom of choice, they expressed apprehensions that Adam would do ill therein. But God admonished them that they knew not what he knew. Since disobedience of Adam by partaking the forbidden fruit was his first act in exercise of freedom of choice, he had to choose between good and that which is reverse of it. Therefore it was necessary to introduce evil by deputing a "tempter" to mislead Adam before he was to exercise the freedom. It is probably in this background that Iqbal is prompted in one of his verses to blame God for conspiring with Satan against man. He wonders suspiciously:
How could he (Satan) have the courage to
refuse on the day of creation?
Who knows whether he is your confidant or mine?
(Ba¯l i Jibri¯l)
Goethes view of evil is Pelagian when he claims that evil is merely the reverse of good. The forces, good and evil, apparently working in opposite directions, in fact work in cooperation in order to carry out the divine plan. The action and reaction of good and evil or the succumbing before temptation and the resulting remorse in the course of conflict between the Devil and man, according to Goethe, brings out the best in man.
Iqbal supplements Goethe when he affirms "evil has an educative value of its own. Virtuous people are usually very stupid". (Stray Reflections)
I asked a sage: "What is life"?
He replied: "It is wine whose bitterness is the best."
I said: "They have put evil in its raw nature."
He answered: "Its good is in this very evil."
(Paya¯m i Mashriq)
While the positive existence of evil is acknowledged by Rumi, Goethe and Iqbal, the nature of evil can only be poetically illustrated through a reference to the Devil. Therefore, Iblis in Rumi, Mephisto in Goethe and Shayt?a¯n in Iqbal represent different aspects of the same "cobweb" personality.
Rumis Iblis wakes up Mua¯wiyah at dawn reminding him to offer the morning prayers before the time runs out. A dialogue ensues, in the course of which Iblis tries to convince Mua¯wiyah that he adores God. It was the hand of Gods bounty that sowed his seed and brought him into being from nothingness. God procured milk during his infancy. God rocked his cradle. Therefore Gods wrath is only temporary like a mothers anger. The doors of His grace are not permanently shut on anyone.
"My refusal to bow before Adam", Iblis argues, "did not amount to disobedience of Gods command. On the contrary, it resulted from my extreme love of God. Has he not himself commanded do not bow before any other except Me? This forehead which has always bowed only before God cannot bow before anyone else even at His bidding."
Iblis contends, "This was a game between lover and beloved. He commanded me to play and I played the predetermined hand of lover. Thus I did what I was destined to do and was made to accept His wrath. But I still remain His companion, friend and comrade."
Iblis advances the argument that although virtue and vice are opposed to each other, their operation is complementary. He asks: "How can I be held responsible for transforming good into evil. I am not the Creator. The Creator makes man good or bad. I am only expected to hold a mirror through which virtuous and vicious can see their faces and identify themselves." According to Ibliss reasoning evil circulates in every drop of human blood and yet man blames. Iblis for his own frailties.
Rumis Iblis is equipped only with reason, like a snake who attacks with his head. None can controvert his arguments, and no one can get out of his snare except through divine grace. However Mua¯wiyah is not persuaded by Iblis articulate apology. He finds it deceitful and consisting of a pack of lies. When Iblis sarcastically claims that man is incapable of distinguishing between truth & falsehood, Rumi steps in and points out that falsehood always agitates the heart whereas truth provides solace and satisfaction.
Eventually Mua¯wiyah overpowers Iblis who confesses that he woke up Mua¯wiyah because had he missed the morning prayers his remorse would have earned him more grace. Iblis remains a liar until the end when he defends his act as based on envy, i.e. as a lover of God he is envious of man.
Rumis portrayal of Iblis depicts him as a lover of God. But a heartless being is incapable of loving, and here lies his deceit. Therefore when Iblis claims that all envy arises from love, for fear lest another becomes the chosen of the beloved, he is lying. In fact Rumis Iblis is nothing but reason (aql), the reverse of love (ishq). According to him Adam lapsed because of his stomach and sexual passion whereas Iblis was accursed because of pride and ambition engendered in him by reason. Rumi also shows to us that Iblis not only instigates man to commit sin, he sometimes persuades man to perform a virtuous act in order to deprive him from earning a higher reward.
In Goethes Faust the role of Mephisto is not that which is usually attributed to the Devil. He represents a spirit of nihilism, negation and contradictions, which is inimical to all life and higher forms of existence. Goethe first takes up the conflict of good and evil on a subjective plane and thereafter at the cosmic level. It is only when Faust rejects all pretensions of knowledge that Mephisto appears at Fausts own craving. The events that follow take the reader through the problems of human innocence, suffering, love, hate, desire, appetite and -sin. It is the unique quality of Goethes genius that he picked up an ordinary legend and filled it with the experiences of the entire human race. According to Goethe, evil is a stepping-stone to virtue in a mysterious way, and this is conveyed through the words of Mephisto in Faust:
Part of that power, not understood,
Which always wills the Bad,
And always promotes the Good.
The pact that Mephisto made with Faust was to dissuade him from striving in life. He offered Faust all forbidden worldly pleasures that Faust readily accepted but his nature did, not change. He was only temporarily lulled to sleep. According to Goethe it is in the nature of man to move from lower to ever higher plane and from there to still higher planes, and it is only by constant striving that man can carve out his destiny. Faust went on striving Without regard to good and evil as, in the eyes of Goethe, to strive is an act of willing and an act of willing does not fall in the realm of freedom, but to that of nature. Mephisto used all his devices to lure Faust into accepting conditions which were not conducive to the fulfilment of the divine plan. It was not only striving for a virtuous life that ultimately won Faust the divine grace. But it were fear and hope which elevated him to forgiveness. He was delivered in the end and Gods faith in man was vindicated. Mephisto did not succeed in dragging Faust down to nihilistic depths of hell.
Thus restless activity in the nature of Faust did not hinder him in any manner even to wager his soul to the Devil:
To hear the woe of earth & all its joys,
To tussle, struggle, scuffle with its storms,
And not fearful in the crash of shipwreck.
In Goethes words, God himself has provided an explanation for the creation of the Devil. In the "Prologue in Heaven" He declares:
Of all the spirits that deny,
The Rogue (Devil) is to me least burdensome,
Mans activity too easily run slack,
He loves to sink into unlimited repose
And so I am glad to give him,
A companion like the Devil, who excites,
And works and goads him on to create.
On the other hand, when the Devil confronts God in the "Prologue in Heaven", he complains that Adam is not his match, but is only a "long-legged grasshopper." Mephisto sarcastically affirms:
My Lord! I find things there (on earth),
Still bad as they can be,
Mans misery even to pity moves my nature,
Ive scarce the heart to plague the wretched creature.
When a corpse approaches, close my house,
It goes with me as with the cat the mouse.
It is interesting to note that Goethe refrained from describing the nature of God. Faust only explains that He is All-embracing and All-preserving and therefore cannot be named. Faust says:
Call it Bliss! Heart! Love! God!,
I have no name thereof, feeling is everything,
The name is sound & smoke, only to obscure celestial fire When Eckermann asked Goethe about the nature of relationship of the Divine with the Daemonic and the incompatibly of one with the other, he answered:
"Dear boy! What do we know of the idea of the Divine, and what can our narrow conceptions presume to tell of the Supreme Being? If I call him by a hundred names, like a Turk (Muslim), I should yet fall short & have said nothing in comparison to the boundlessness of his attributes."
Iqbal was profoundly influenced by Rumi who is his spiritual guide. On the other hand he was also a great admirer of Goethe. Yet Goethes spirit, like the Urdu poet Ghalibs, is that of a poet, whereas Iqbals spirit, following in the footsteps of Rumi, is more of a prophetic nature.
Iqbal is acknowledged as the poet of "Khudi" (Self/Ego). "Khudi" has many dimensions and forms. Therefore, Iqbals Satan is one of the forms of "Khudi". Since Iqbal believed in the greatness of human ego and was a poet of action, he could not resist being attracted by the dynamic personality of the Devil.
Iqbalian Satan is a gigantic five dimensional figure. His first dimension is that no one can surpass his deceit, cunning, remarkable planning and constant striving for the realization of his objective. He is not evil incarnate. His self-confidence, determination, pride and ambition are the qualities that make him a model of self-hood (Khudi).
Like Rumi and Goethe, Iqbal believes in restless & feverish activity for attaining the goal. The goal itself has no significance to Iqbal. It is the striving for the goal, the energy for tireless effort, and the strength to always continue to remain a wayfarer that matters. Life is a chase after a goal, which must go on changing. Iqbal says:
In a spark 1 crave a star,
And in a star a sun.
My journey has no bourn,
No place of halting, it is death for me to linger.
In the same strain there is another verse:
When my eye comes to rest on the loveliness of a beauty,
My heart at that moment yearns for a beauty lovelier still.
Iqbal, like Rumi and Goethe, believes that evil is necessary for the development of man. Had there been no evil, there would have been no conflict, no struggle and no striving. Therefore, Iqbal emphasizes:
Waste not your life in a world devoid of taste,
Which contains God but not the Devil.
(Paya¯m i Mashriq)
Iqbal does not want man to get involved in the controversy of virtue & vice or good and evil, but must only concentrate on striving for better destinations. Life which leads to paradise is a life of passivity, inactivity and of eternal death.
The second dimension of Iqbals Devil is his cheeky confrontation with God. Addressing God, he claims that he is no less than Him:
You bring stars into being,
I make them revolve,
The motion in your immobile
Universe is as I breathe my spirit into it.
You only put soul in the body
But the warmth of tumultuous activity
In life is from me.
You show the way to eternal rest,
I direct towards feverish activity and constant striving.
Man who is short-sighted, clueless and ignorant, Takes birth in your lap
Attains maturity only in my care.
The third dimension of Iqbals Devil is that he is the first lover (of Gods Unity). He unhesitatingly accepted Gods wrath and separation by his disobedience. But even in the state of negation he fulfilled the inner will of God. While introducing Iqbal to Satan in Javi¯d Na¯mah, the crucified Sufi Mans?u¯r H?alla¯j says:
Since Satan is the first lover,
Preceding all others,
Adam is not familiar with his secrets.
Tear off the garb of imitation,
So that you may learn the lesson
Of "Tawi¯d " (Gods Unity) from him.
The fourth dimension of Satan that fascinated Iqbal is his pride and rivalry with his adversary, man. Here Iqbal follows Rumi by affirming that satanic reason is the basis of the Devils entire activity. Therefore, Iqbal says:
If reason remains under the command of heart, it is Godly.
If it releases itself, it is Satanic.
Iqbals Satan mocks at Gabriels cloistered piety and declares proudly:
In mans pinch of dust my daring spirit
Has breathed ambition,
The Warp and Woof of mind and reason,
Are woven of my sedition.
The deeps of good & evil you only see from lands verge,
Which of us it is, you or 1, that dares tempests scourge?
Ask this of God, when next you stand alone within his sight,
Whose blood is it has painted Mans long history so bright?
In the heart of Almighty like a pricking thorn I live
You only cry forever God, Oh God, Oh God, most high!
Iqbals Devil like Goethes, shows his disgust for the weakness of his rival. His Satans complaint to God in Javi¯d Na¯mah sounds very much like that of Mephisto:
O Lord of good & bad! Mans company
And commerce has degraded me. Not once
My bidding dares he to deny; his "self
He realizes not. And never feels
His dust the thrill of disobedience,
His nature is effeminate
And feeble his resolve, he lacks the strength
To stand a single stroke of mine.
A riper rival I deserve. Reclaim
From me this game of chaff and dust,
For pranks and impish play
Suit not an aged one.
Confront me with a single real man
May I perchance gain bliss in my defeat!
The fifth dimension of Iqbalian Devil is political i.e., how he, on national and international planes, carves out earthly devils in the form of political leaders who through their strategies lead to war, decease, misery and destruction of mankind. In his poem, "Satans Parliament" (Armaghan i Hijaz) Iqbals Devil prophesises that since he himself is the founder and protector of capitalism, he is not afraid of the communist revolution of tomorrow.
But Iqbals Devil is as miserable as man in this world full of complexities. In one of his quatrains Iqbal says:
From me convey the message to Iblis,
How long he intends to flutter,
Twist and scuffle under its net?
I have never been happy with this world,
Its morning is nothing but a prelude of the evening.
On another occasion Iqbal entreats the Devil for cooperation. If divine help is not forth coming, why not ask the Devil:
Come! Let us cooperate and lead the life of harmony.
Our mutual skills can transform
This wretched planet into a paradise
Under the skies, if we together
Disseminate love and healing,
And banish jealousy, hatred, disease & misery.
To sum up, good without evil amounts to the passivity of paradisal rest. Therefore it is disapproved by the three poets as against the divine plan. Mans destiny lies in constant creative activity. Iqbal is categorical when he asserts:
When act performed is creative,
Its virtuous, even if sinful.
The crux of the message of the three poets is that the creation of Adam is not a "wasteful effort. It must be clearly understood that under the divine plan man is still in the state of becoming. Rumi says man has taken millions and millions of centuries to evolve, from insect to plant, from plant to animal, and from animal to man. The evolution continues and through mans ceaseless efforts he is bound to cross higher stages of life and presumably go beyond angels. Goethe also lays emphasis on the achievement of higher forms of life by man. Iqbal through the constant strengthening of "ego" expects man to become a co-worker or rather a counsellor of the Divine Being in creating a more perfect universe. He hints that man would perhaps eventually democratize the arbitrary divine system, so much so that if a destiny is to be changed, action would be taken by God in consultation with and according to the will of man.
However, this indeed would be the man of distant tomorrow, the aspiration of the triangular poets, who, with the assistance of the Devil, could go beyond good and evil. But he justifiably cannot be found today, as Rumi in his famous quatrain asserts:
An old man carrying a lamp,
Was seen wandering in the streets.
When asked: "What are you looking for?"
Replied: "I am sick and tired of the beasts,
And look for a real man."
I said: "You cant find him
Our search was in vain."
"This is what I look for" he said,
"That which cant be found.
Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr
The revival and reform of Islam in the twentieth century, and its emergence as a social movement across the Muslim world in the present world is closely tied to life histories and intellectual contributions of particular individuals. It is they who advanced the formative ideas, spoke to the concerns of various social groups, shaped public debates by selecting the ideas that would be included in them and those that would not, and related individual and social experiences to lasting questions and concerns about freedom, justice, good, evil, and salvation. In short, they interpreted Islam, emphasized dimensions of it, and articulated an ideology on the basis of their faith, one which uses social impulses to make a new discourse possible. It is usually the biographies and ideas of men like Mawla¯na¯ Mawdu¯di¯ (d. 1979), Ayatollah Khomeini (d. 1989), or Sayyid Qut?b (d. 1966) that are viewed as essential to historical investigation into contemporary Islamic thought and action, and critical to understanding it. However, it is not possible to fully understand the scope and philosophical underpinnings of the doctrines that undergird Islamic revival and reform without looking at the works of Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938). Although not as politically active Iqbals ideas have been of great influence on the gamut of Islamic thinkers in the twentieth century, and especially in Asia, where his perspectives on colonialism, Islamic revival, and relations between Muslims and non-Muslims have been most germane. Iqbals corpus allows us to locate the roots of Islamic revivalism. In specific processes and events, sharpening the focus of the more general explanations that have revolved around the larger forces of industrialization, urbanization, imperialism, or uneven development. To understand the roots, and trajectory of development of such foundational concepts of the current Islamic discourse on power, the state, and perfect polity, it is necessary to contend with Iqbal, and his contribution to the articulation of these ideas. The Beginning: Education and Early Career
Sir Muhammad Iqbal was born in 1877 in Sialkot in the Indian province of Punjab. He was born shortly after the Great Mutiny of 1857 and grew up at a time when Muslim power was on the decline before the rise of British colonialism. This reality would have a major impact on Iqbals intellectual formation. In many ways Iqbal would become a link between the Muslim historical past in India, and its future. In the same vein he would become the interpreter of the history, making sense of the turbulent changes through which Muslims were passing, relating their historical experience to the tenets of their faith, and drawing on the faith for solace, hope, and a path to recapturing lost glories. In this, Iqbals carrier both paralleled and resembled that of Sir Sayyid Ah?mad Kha¯n the founder of the Aligarh educational institution on the one hand, and Mawla¯na¯ Abu l-Kala¯m A¯za¯d (d. 1958), on the other. In looking to reform and adaptation of western ideas to restore power to the Muslim community of India, Iqbals carrier was close that of Sir Sayyid. In seeking to revive the faith, and seek power in its proper practice, Iqbal and A¯za¯d had much in common. It is for this reason that both Islamic modernists and revivalists trace their ideas to Iqbal.
Throughout his life Iqbal grappled with the religious, social, and political implications of the occlusion of Islam in his homeland. His rich literary and philosophical corpus was one of the first and most serious efforts directed at both understanding this development and charting a way for restoring Islam to its due place in the temporal order.
Iqbal received his early education in Sialkot and Lahore in the religious sciences, Arabic, Persian, and English. It was at Lahores Oriental College (1809-97), where he studied with Sir Arnold Arnold, that he first came in contact with modern thought. In 1899 he received a Master in Philosophy from that college, and began to teach Arabic, compose poetry, and write on social and economic issues. His poetry was in the classical Perseo-Urdu style, but also showed the influence of European literature, especially Words worth and Coleridge. His eclectic education would in later facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas between East and the West in Iqbals works.
In 1905 he left India to study law at the University of Cambridge, but it was philosophy that soon consumed his intellectual passion. At Trinity College he studied Hegel and Kant and became familiar with the main trends in European philosophy. His interest in Philosophy took him to Heidelberg and Munich in 1907, where he was strongly influenced by the works of Nietzsche. It was there that he received his doctorate in philosophy, writing a dissertation entitled, The Development of Metaphysics in Persia. In 1908 he was called to the Bar at Lincolns Inn in England. A lawyer and a philosopher, he returned to India in that year.
Soon after his return he began teaching philosophy at Lahores Government College, and also took a keen interest in the unfolding plight of Indian Muslims under British rule. Iqbals interpretive reading of Islam took form during Indias struggle for independence between the two world wars. This was a period of great uncertainty for Indian Muslims. They had already lost their position of dominance during British rule, and were now anxious about their fate in independent India. The Muslims had never been reconciled to British rule over India, and were, therefore, the natural constituency for the Congress party and its struggle for independence. For many Muslims, however, the prospect of living under Hindu rule was also quite daunting. Their dislike of the British was tempered by their apprehensions about what they were to expect of a "Hindu Raj." In broad brush, there were two Muslim positions during this period.
First, there were those Muslim intellectual and political leaders who supported the Congress party, actively participated in its politics, and encouraged their fellow Muslims to do the same. They were fiercely anti-imperialist, and viewed opposition to the British to be the foremost concern of their community. The political views of many was informed by the legacy of the Great Mutiny of 1857, the sack and razing of Delhi by the British and the abrogation of the Mughal empire in 1858, and the ensuing social dislocation of Muslims. Moreover, these Muslims believed that support for the Congress party was the best option before Muslims; for the struggle for independence would forge a united Indian nation in which Muslims, owing to their contribution, would enjoy prominence. These Muslims accepted the Congress partys claim to be thoroughly secular in outlook, to be above communal divisions, and to be capable and willing to promote and safeguard the interests of Indias Muslims both before independence and in the future Indian republic. Many of Muslim Indias best and brightest minds intellectual and religious leaders followed this path, men like Abu l-Kala¯m A¯za¯d (later Indias Minister of Education) or Z?a¯kir H?usain (d. 1969, later India President), and the bulk of the Indian ulama, who remained in India even after Pakistan was created.
Second, there were those Muslim leaders, exemplified and later led by Muh?ammad Ali Jinnah, (d. 1948) in the Muslim League, who did not view the struggle against the British to be the paramount concern of the Muslims, and remained apprehensive about living as a minority in a predominantly Hindu India. These Muslim leaders believed that Muslims were best advised to reassess their commitment to the Congress party, and to focus on safe-guarding and furthering their communal interests at a time of flux and before an uncertain future.
More to the point, Jinnah did not view the Congress party and the independence movement as impartial and above communal affiliations. Rather, he argued that the Congress party was Hindu at its core, and as such would not truly represent or safe-guard Muslim interests. Jinnah, therefore, demanded special constitutional rights and privileges to protect Muslim interests in independent India.
To understand Iqbals views on politics, and the role of Islam in it is imperative to understand the context in which those ideas took shape, and why and in what capacity did Indian Muslims react positively to those ideas. Before leaving for Europe Iqbal had been a liberal nationalist, sympathetic to the Indian National congress party. He was now communalist in his outlook, supporting Muslim separatism and its chief advocate, the All-India Muslim League. Iqbal was not, however, an active politician, and for this reason, the British saw no danger in his politics which was always subsumed in his more potent philosophical message; he was knighted in 1922, and he never renounced that title.
Not directly acting in the communalist debate did not, however, mean that Iqbal was completely removed from politics. In 1926, Iqbal was elected to the Punjab Legislative Council, and grew closer to the All-India Muslim League. He showed more and more support for a separate Muslim homeland in lieu of submitting to Hindu rule which was to follow independence. In fact they very idea of a separate Muslim homeland; consisting of the Muslim majority provinces in Northwest India, was first proposed by Iqbal in 1930. Still, he never ceased to be first and foremost an intellectual force, and it is his impact on Muslim thought more than his political leanings that have secured his place in Muslim Cultural life. Religious Reform and Reconstruction of Islamic Philosophy
Iqbal is unique among contemporary Muslim thinkers and philosophers in utilizing theology, mysticism, philosophy of the East along with that of the Sets and the potent emotional appeal and nuanced style of Perseo-Urdu Poetry to understand and explain the destiny of Man, and then to relate that vision to his social life and polity. It is Iqbals ability to traverse the expanse which separates philosophy from socio-cultural concerns that has made him a philosopher and a cultural hero, as well as the fountainhead of contemporary Islamic political thought.
Iqbal argued that it is in the realization of their destiny that the spiritual salvation and political emancipation of Muslims can be realized. Islam holds the key to the realization of that destiny, for faith is central to a Muslims life. It is religion that defines human existence, and its is through religion that man may rise to greater heights. That rise is predicated on the rediscovery of the true faith, and that rediscovery is in turn tied to the reconstruction of the Islamic community.
Much like other Islamic modernists, Iqbal found the ideal polity in the early history of Islam. It was in the Muhammadan community that Muslims had reached the pinnacle of their spiritual and worldly power-the full realization of human destiny. It was that vision of the past that guided his prescriptions for the future. He became convinced that man was able to realize the full potential of his destiny only in the context of the revival of Islam, in an order wherein the perfection of the soul would be reflected in the excellence of social relations. Yet, Iqbals formulation was not a jejune call to atavism. For, while he idealized early Islamic history, Iqbal also incorporated modern values and precepts into that ideal, such that the Muhammadan community and the fundamental tenets of the Muslim faith embodied all that he believed to be food in the modern West. The impact of the West on Iqbal was deep-seated and is clearly evident in the fabric of his world view. His criticisms of many aspects of the Western civilization, especially its secularism in some of his works such as Paya¯m i Mashriq, only thinly guise his extensive borrowing form Western thought.
Idealization of Islam went hand-i-hand with advocating religious reform. Iqbal argued that, Islam can serve man only if it was reformed and reinterpreted in the eh image of its Muhammadan ideal-and Iqbals understanding of the West-while using the tools of philosophical analysis and mystical wisdom. Iqbal did not view this exercise as innovation or reformations, but rediscovery and reconstruction of Islam. He believed that the inner truth of Islam had over the centuries been hidden by obscurantist practices and cultural accretions promoted by Sufi masters (masha¯yikh), religious divines (ulama), and wayward sultans and monarchs. It was they who had produced a view of Islam that had led the faithful astray, sapped that religion of its power, ending its glorious reign. To reverse their fall from power and to realize their destiny, Muslims must find access to the truth of their religion. They must become aware of the fact that Islam, as it stood before them, was impure; only then would they look beyond popular impressions of Islam-passionate and devotional attachments to the religion to find its hidden truth. Echoes of these arguments can be found in the works of the gamut of Muslim thinkers in later years, from Sayyid Abu l-Ala¯ Mawdu¯di¯ to Fazlur Rah?ma¯n, both of Pakistan, or Ali Shari¯ati¯ of Iran. Through them in turn Iqbals ideas traveled farther afield, to the Arab World and Southeast Asia, becoming the calling cards of revivalist thinking. Today, new areas are being touched by Iqbal. He is one the central intellectual poles around which debates about religion and identity in central Asia are taking shape.
Iqbals early works, Asra¯r i Khudi¯ and Rumu¯z i Bekhudi¯, encouraged Muslims to follow his prescriptions by harping on the themes of love and freedom; not romantic love or political freedom per s, but love of the truth and freedom from that view of Islam which had been vouchsafed through cultural transmission. Still his most complex philosophical and political views were argued emotionally in his poetry. He caught the attention of Muslims using the very language and sensibility which he believed they had to abandon if they were to aspire to greater heights. Iqbal is just as towering a figure in Persian and Urdu poetry as he is in contemporary Islamic philosophy.
Iqbal rejected fatalism (taqdi¯r). He did not view history as the arena for the Divine will to unfold in, as Muslims generally do, but for humans to realize their potential. He encouraged Muslims to take charge of their own lives and destinies, to shape history rather than serve as pawns in it. To him history was not sacred and hence was easily changeable. This was a conception which showed the influence of the Kantian notion of "Divine aloofness." It was at odds with the time-honored Asharite tradition in Islamic theology and philosophy, which teaches that history is the manifestation of the Divine will and is therefore sacred; man can not hope to understand the Divine wisdom and hence should not reject the writ of history, nor seek to interfere with it. In encouraging Muslims to redirect history and to assume responsibility for its unfolding through a rational interpretation of their faith, Iqbal also echoed the beliefs of Mutazalite philosophers who had centuries earlier taken the Asharite to task but had failed to shape the subsequent development of Islamic thought.
Iqbal understood that there could be no systematic rationalization of Islam unless there was a single definition of a Muslim. As a result he sought to produce such a definition in the hope of underlining the fundamental unity which has bound the various sects, denominations, and schools of thought which comprise the Islamic faith. As the eloquent poetry of Zubu¯r i Ajam shows he was less concerned with the various expressions of Islam and more with the basic tenets of the faith, the lowest common denominator among Muslims. It was also to this end that he idealized early Islamic history, the period when there were no divisions in the he body of the faith. His vision of Islam was per force a simple and pristine one. This notion was of great importance and consequence to Muslim politics of India at the time, and as such made Iqbal a central intellectual figure in the drama of Muslim-Hindu stand-off of the period. For, it was the argument of the British and the Indian National Congress that Muslims of India were not one community, and were so diverse that no one party or leader could claim to speak for them, or to characterize as one people with one aim. The All-India Muslim League and its leader Muh?ammad Ali¯ Jinnah rejected this notion arguing that Muslims were one people with one political agenda, and that the League and Jinnah were its "Sole Spokesman". Iqbals discourse was central to this debate. Clearly his poetry and philosophical expositions supported the Leagues position. Even if at the philosophical, cultural, and theological level such a unity was not easily attainable, at the political level through Iqbal and later Jinnah it became a palpable reality. As every shop-keeper in Punjab recited Iqbals poetry, he unwittingly grew closer to this singular definition of the Muslim community, especially as a political entity. Hence, the Islamic polity came to approximate Iqbals ideal far more than an all-encompassing ummah. The Perfect Man and the Perfect Society
Iqbals principal aim in reformation and rationalization of the Islamic faith was to recreate the ideal Muhammadan society-the perfect order in which man would attain his highest ideals. This was a task which began with the perfection of man-best exemplified in the example of Prophet Muhammad himself and culminated in the creation of the ideal social order, hence for Iqbal revival of faith at the individual level was ineluctably tied to the creation of the perfect Islamic would once again rise in India only pursuant to a revival of Islam. This idea was later manifested in the ideology of such Islamic groups as the Jama¯at i Isla¯mi¯, who sought to achieve exactly that revival, and then through the creation of perfect Islamic societies in the form of Jama¯ats (parties/societies).
Iqbals perspective, however, was not so much political, although it had great impact on Muslim politics, but was philosophical. He combined the Nietzschean concept of "Superman" with the Sufi doctrine of Perfect Man (al-insa¯n al-ka¯mil), devising an all-encompassing view of human development and social change. He saw God as the perfect ego-but an ego nevertheless, more near and tangible than God of old. As outlined in the Javi¯d Na¯mah, God is the supreme ideal in which Iqbals scheme of human development would culminate. This conception of the Divine closely resembles the Sufi notion of al-insa¯n al-ka¯mil, and no doubt parallels Nietzsches Superman.
In describing his views Iqbal used the Sufi saint, Jala¯l al-Di¯n Ru¯mi¯s (1207-73) doctrine of ascent of man. Ru¯mi¯ had explained the Sufi experience in terms of an alchemical process which would transform the base metal of the human soul into the gold of Divine perfection. Iqbal echoed Ru¯mi¯ in the Ba¯l-i Jibri¯l, where he argued that life continues despite death, for the soul is immortal and life continues as death and later as resurrection. Through this death and becoming human life would perfect. Since the rise of man was closely tied to the reconstruction of the temporal order, Iqbal relied on Ru¯mi¯ to sanction the passing of the old Muslim order to pave the was for the rise of a new and triumphant one. Human and social development as such will continue until they attain the state of perfection as understood by Sufis and pondered upon by Nietzsche. Iqbal defined that perfection as a state where love and sciencea symbolizing essence of East and the Westhappily occupy the same intellectual space.
With every birth man can attain a higher spiritual state in a more perfect society, for man has the essence (jawhar) which can be transformed into perfection. That process can only occur through the intermediary of true of Islam, for Islam has the blue-print. Just as meditation and asceticism would prepare the soul of the Sufi for spiritual ascent, activismabandoning fatalism in favor of an engaged approach to individual and social lifewould perform the same function in Iqbals scheme. That activism would culminate in the "Islamic state," which Iqbal equated with the Sufi conception of spiritual bliss.
The imprint of Sufism on Iqbal here is unmistakable and quite interesting. For he generally rejected Sufism, arguing that it had always been concerned only with the spiritual salvation of the individual, whereas he believed individual salvation could not be divorced from the reconstruction of the temporal order. Yet, criticism of Sufism was not tantamount to rejecting those of its teachings and beliefs that he had found quite persuasive. The titles of Iqbals various divans attest to the influence of Sufi imagery and symbolisms on his thought.
In many ways Iqbals vision was a modernization of Sufism using the tools of Western philosophy. His innovation lay in introducing social development, and hence the emergence of the ideal Islamic political order, as a necessary condition for attainment of perfection and spiritual salvation. It is this aspect of his thought that was of relevance to Muslim political activism in India at the twilight of the Raj, and later influenced many revivalist thinkers who have since looked to politics as the medium for effecting individual spiritual salvation. The Role of Education
The reform of Islam, and the revival of the faith at the individual and political levelwhat Iqbal called umra¯niyat-i Isla¯mwas predicated on devising a satisfactory system of education that would both inculcate true Islam in the minds of Muslims, and equip them with the intellectual tools that they would need in developing and managing their societies and polities. Iqbal thought about education extensively. What he had in mind was a combination of excellence in theological and shari¯ah studies and modern scientific and philosophical thinking. others, such as the Nadwatu l-Ulama in Lucknow or the Aligarh University too had experimented with such approaches, but Iqbal was not satisfied with their results. They either failed to satisfactorily incorporate modern subjects, or were too had experimented with such approaches, but Iqbal was not satisfied with their results. They either failed to satisfactorily incorporate modern subjects, or were too removed from Islamic studies to train genuine Muslims.
What Iqbal had in mind is perhaps best reflected in his involvement in the Da¯r al-Isla¯m project. This project was based on a waqf in Punjab. Iqbal hoped to turn it into a model educational institution. In the end it became the nucleus for the Jama¯at i Isla¯mi¯, but before Mawla¯na¯ Mawdu¯di¯ left his mark upon it, Iqbal tried hard to shape it in the mold that he saw necessary for the future of Muslims. How he went about this tells much about his vision.
Since he began to advocate a Muslim homeland in northern India Iqbal had favored that the Muslims would found a political organization. Still, he saw education as a more important instrument for their empowerment. He had discussed it with a number of his friends, including Z?afar al-H?asan (d. 1951) of Aligarh University, a Kantian philosopher of renown who had been a proponent of the two-nation theory, and had proposed a Muslim political organization to be named Shabba¯nu l-Muslimi¯n (Muslims Youth).
Iqbal was not organizationally minded and regarded education as the most effective means of bringing about a Muslim reawakening. He favored establishing a model da¯r al-ulu¯m (seminary) in Punjab to lay the foundation for a new Islamic world view, which would in turn facilitate the creation of a Muslim national homeland. Iqbals aim was evident in a letter that he wrote to the rector of al-Azhar in Cairo, Shaikh Mus?t?afa¯ al-Mara¯ghi¯, requesting him to send a director for the intended da¯r al-ulu¯m. In that letter Iqbal asked the Egyptian scholar for a man who was not only well versed in the religious sciences, but also in English, the natural sciences, economics and politics. Al-Mara¯ghi¯ answered that he could think of no suitable candidate. Iqbal was disappointed, and later gave up on that project.
However several issues here are of importance. First, that Iqbal viewed education as the fulcrum of both reform and revival of Islam, and the creation of its worldly order. This emphasis on the foundational role of education in Islamic revival, later on found reflection in the works of a number of the advocates of the Islamic state, notably, among them, Mawla¯na¯ Mawdu¯di¯ who viewed education as inevitably ties to Islamic revolution and the Islamic state.
Second, the definition that Iqbal had in mind for a rector of his project is also telling. Iqbal saw the proper educational system to be a balance between traditional Islamic sciences and western subjects and languages. he did not stipulate an modernist vision, but facility to study, interpret, and apply Western thought in tandem with traditional religious sciences. Mara¯ghi¯s response to Iqbal suggested that perhaps Iqbals definition was ahead of its time, there had to have been occasion to train such multi-faceted individuals somewhere before they could be called on to lead a new institution. In effect, Iqbal was looking for the very product that his institution was to produce; if that product was already extant, then why build a new institution to satisfy that lacunae. It was this realization that led Iqbal to give up. It is also likely that the pace of events at the time was forcing Muslims to look for political solutions and to postpone more cumbersome educational undertakings to some future date.
Finally, that Iqbal wrote to Mara¯ghi¯ and the al-Azhar rather than the Deoband, Farangi Mahal, or Nadwatu l-Ulama in India is telling in several regards. It is possible that since many Indian ulama supported the Congress and did not look favorably upon Muslim separatism that Iqbal saw no point in contacting them. It is also possible that Iqbal viewed the ulama with disdain. Still, he did write to an a¯lim in Egypt.
In writing to Mara¯ghi¯ Iqbal reinforced a tendency which will blossom later in South Asia that Islamic authenticity must per force be associated with the Arab center of Islam. Although, at that time, and in many ways since, Islam in Asia has had for more intellectual and cultural vitality, still it has become a necessity to associate revival and reform with the Arab heartlands. This attests to revivalisms desire to recapture the authenticity of early Islamic life of the prophetic era and that which followed it immediately. Emphasis on origins thus necessitates hearkening to Arabism.
The appeal to Al-Azhar also had a pan-Islamist dimension, in that Iqbal saw affinity with Arab Muslims, and viewed Cairo as an intellectual and cultural pole for Indian Muslims to relate to, and receive support from.
Although Iqbals ideas on education never found an institutional embodiment, still, his emphasis on education has become a central feature of the Muslim discourse on the revival and reform of the faith. Iqbal and the Shaping of Pakistans Politics
Iqbal was one of the first advocates of Muslim separatism in India. He was not a politician, and was not interested in participating in the organizational and activist struggle for Muslim autonomy and independence. Still, in many ways he laid the foundation of Pakistan, at the intellectual and cultural level. It for this reason that he occupies such a central place in Pakistan today.
Liah Greenfeld writes that, the architects of nationalism have generally been intellectuals. The future nations rewards the intellectuals for their contribution by according to them a central role in the new sociopolitical order-turning them into an "aristocracy" that will enjoy "high social status for generations to come."
Iqbal is without doubt the most popular poet of Pakistan, and is viewed by Pakistanis of all hues as an infallible and omniscient philosopher and sage. His name bestows legitimacy on all ideas and programs which are associated with him. He has gained and almost prophetic reputation in Pakistan, far exceeding the claims of the modest poet and thinker of Lahore, His ideas and sayings are invoked to legitimate various policies, sanctify sundry views and decisions, and silence opposition and criticism. In short, for Pakistanis Iqbal became a figure larger than life, a repository of great wisdom and charisma, for people all across the political spectrum from Left to religious right.
This status owes to the central role which Iqbal, as an intellectual, has played in articulating Muslim aspirations, and relating them to the creation of a homeland. After Iqbals corpus was always concerned with relating revival of Islam at the personal level to the emergence of an Islamic order. Pakistan made sense to many of its advocates in the context of Iqbals ideas, and also through his masterful poetry, which weaved Islamic symbols with political ideals.
As mentioned above many claim Iqbal as the fountainhead of their social, religious, intellectual, and political programs. This is perhaps expected when one figure so dominates the national life. Still, there are those who can with some legitimacy claim Iqbal, and they are not necessarily on the same sides in religious and/or political debates.
Islamic parties with some justification claim to be heirs to Iqbals intellectual tradition. After all, the notion of revival and reform of Islam, its relation to creation of a just Islamic order, reform of Sufism, and the cultural accretions that have come to shape the cultural dimensions of Islam are all part of the Islamic parties program. Those who follow these parties relate to Iqbal, and then through him to these parties in the context of these dimensions of Iqbals corpus.
There are also those in Pakistan who have been inspired by Iqbals attention to the importance of modern ideas, and the need to create a linkage between them and Islam. Thinkers from Khali¯fa Abdul H?aki¯m to Fazlur Rah?ma¯n found legitimacy for their enterprise in Iqbals modernism.
Still, others, those interested in the revival of the Islamic tradition of philosophical inquiry, find support in Iqbal, who after all, wrote about metaphysics in Persia, and understood irfa¯n and analyzed Mawla¯na¯ Jala¯l al-Di¯n Ru¯mi¯.
The impact of Iqbal has been multi-directional, too diffuse in this sense to be discrete or tied to any one ideology or group. More important, is perhaps the fact that Iqbal has continued to legitimate religio-political inquiry. His mark on Pakistan is not so much in the specifics of his ideas, but in the foundational principle that stipulates: all revival of Islam at the personal level is predicated upon the creation of an Islamic worldly order. Regardless of what else they disagree on, the sundry of intellectual, religious, and political debaters in Pakistan are concerned with this issue, and most agree on its centrality to their respective enterprises. Conclusion
Iqbal was without doubt a most creative and original thinker, one who sought to bring together many strains of Islamic life and thought together, to reform the Muslim faith, imbue it with modern precepts, and to reconstruct it anew. He related Islamic thought to Western philosophy, and linked spiritual salvation to intellectual change and social development. As a poet of exceptional abilities he conveyed these ideas to his audience most forcefully. Although there is no distinct school of thought associated with Iqbal, there is no doubt that many across the spectrum of Islamic thought have been swayed by the wisdom of his agenda and the logic of his method, and have sought to emulate him in reviving their faith and reforming their societies.
Bibliography and Further Reading
Ahmad, Aziz. Iqbal and the Recent Exposition of Islamic Political Thought. Lahore: Muhammad Ashraf, 1950.
Bausani, Alessandro. "Classical Muslim Philosophy in the Work of a Muslim Modernist: Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938)", Arch. Gesch d. Philosophie (Berlin), Vol. XLII (1960): 3.
Bausani, Alessandro. "The Concept of Time in the Religious Philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal", Die Welt des Islam (Leiden), New Series III (1954).
Fernandez, A. "Mans Divine Quest, Appreciation of Philosophy of the Ego According to Sir Muhammad Iqbal," Annali Lateranensis (Rome), Vol. XX (1956).
Greenfeld, Liah, "Transcending the Nations Worth," Didalus 122:3 (Summer 1993).
Hakim, Khalifah Abdul. "The Concept of Love in Rumi and Iqbal", Islamic Culture (Hyderabad) (1959).
Iqbal, Muhammad. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Lahore, 1930.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Pas Che Bayad Kard Ay Aqwam-i Sharq (What Should be Done, O People of the East). Lahore, 1936.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Asrar-i Khudi (Secrets of the Self). Lahore, 1915.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Rumuz-i Bikhudi (Mysteries of Selflessness). Lahore, 1918.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Payam-i Mashriq (Message of the East). Lahore, 1923.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Zubur-i Ajam (Persian Hymns). Lahore, 1927.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Javid Namah (Book of Eternity). Lahore, 1932.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Bal-i Jibril (Gabriels Wing). Lahore, 1936.
Iqbal, Muhammad. Armaghan-i Hijaz (Gift of Hijaz). Lahore, 1938.
Malik, Hafeez (ed.). Iqbal: Poet Philosopher of Pakistan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.
May, Lini S. Iqbal: His Life and Times. Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1974.
Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, "Muhammad Iqbal". In Ian P. McGreal (ed.) Great thinkers of the Eastern World. New York: Harper Collins, 1995, pp. 493-502.
Schimmel, Annemarie. Gabriels Wing: A Study into the Religious Ideas of Sir Muhammad Iqbal. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1963.
Schimmel, Annemarie. "Muhammad Iqbal and German Thought", Muhammad Iqbal, PGF. Karachi, 1960.
Vahid, S.A. Introduction to Iqbal, Karachi, 1954.
Dr. Zeenath Kausar
Ever since the colonization of the Muslim lands and the spread of Western concepts and ideologies in the Muslim world, Muslim thinkers seemed to have preoccupied in exploring and analyzing the alien ideologies from Islamic perspective. Obviously, the purpose behind this has been to provide the correct Islamic stance to the people on several issues related to the Western concepts and ideologies. Some important ideologies that have been assessed and are still under critical assessment by Muslim thinkers include nationalism, democracy and feminism. A survey of the Muslim reflections on these ideologies needs a full-fledge study that is beyond this paper.
Here, in this paper, an attempt is made to make an exploration of the views of the world-known poet-philosopher of Islam, Mohammad Iqbal on democracy. For this a comprehensive study of his writings both in the form of prose and poetry is explored and analyzed. Besides this, some secondary sources are also referred to and utilized. It is contended in the paper, that although Iqbal accepted some of the principles of democracy but he has rejected the secular and material orientation of the philosophy of democracy. It is argued that Iqbals acceptance of some principles of democracy and his rejection of some aspects of democracy is based on his broad perception of Islamic fundamentals and concepts. It implies that Iqbal accepted only those principles of democracy which he deems compatible with Islam but at the same time he rejected the secular foundation of the same principles as well as all those principles and core concepts of democracy which he thinks incompatible with Islamic philosophy of life and Islamic polity. It is therefore concluded in the paper that it is as irrational to accept any of the Western concept or ideology without any critical scrutiny as it is illogical to reject any Western concept and ideology only because it is originated in the West. Hence, Iqbals stance on democracy seems to be a commendable model for Muslim scholars to decide about the Islamic position on any Western concept and ideology. However, it is also emphasized that it is more essential and urgent for Muslim thinkers to concentrate and promote their own Islamic terms and terminologies and to devote their intellectual potentials on setting proper directions to the destination of Islamic Ummah-revitalization of Islamic civilization. Engagement in the debates on the compatibility and incompatibility of Islam with every concept and ideology which Western modernity and postmodernism are presenting before the world should be only a side business not the main preoccupation of thinkers and leaders of the Muslim Ummah.
It is important to clarify at the very out set that the views of Iqbal on democracy cannot be studied in isolation with his broad perception of Islam, his philosophy of (Khudi) selfhood, his concepts of (mard i mumin) man of belief or (insa¯n i ka¯mil) perfect man and his views on ijma¯ and ijtiha¯d. Hence, Iqbals views on democracy shall be studied and assessed in context with the above concepts. The paper comprises three parts. In the first part, Iqbals arguments and contentions for the acceptance of democracy shall be presented and analyzed. Whereas, in the second part, Iqbals arguments for the rejection of some democratic principles shall be highlighted. This shall be followed by a conclusion.
Iqbal: Acceptance of Some Democratic Principles
Some of the important principles of democracy that are appreciated by Iqbal include freedom, equality and election. He finds these principles compatible with Islam to a certain extent. For instance, he points out that in Islam, although the interest of an individual is subordinated to the community but the individual is given sufficient liberty which is necessary for the development of his personality. He contends that the Western theory of democracy also protects the interest of the community while providing a conducive environment to individuals for their own development in the same way as Islam does. He writes.
The best form of government for such a community would be democracy, the idea of which is to let man develop all the possibilities of his nature by allowing him as much freedom as possible.[i]
Iqbal illustrates his contention by pointing out that the Caliph of Islam is subject to the same laws like all others in the given state. He is supposed to be elected by the people and should be deposed by the people "if he goes contrary to the law".[ii] Hence, Iqbal asserts: "Democracy, then, is the most important aspect of Islam, regarded as a political ideal".[iii] But at the same time, he points out that this ideal of freedom lasted in the Muslim world only for thirty years and later "disappeared with its political expansion".[iv]
At some other place, Iqbal traced some historical facts to show how the principles of freedom, equality, election and deposition of rulers are operated in early Muslim history. Once some one asked the Prophet Mohammad whether he would get any position after the Prophet, if he embraced Islam? The Prophet said that it was not in his disposition to do it. Then, Iqbal pointed out how Abu¯ Bakr was selected as the first Caliph and what he said to the people: "Obey me as I obey the Lord and his Prophet, where in I disobey, obey me not."[v] Thus Iqbal highlighted some important historical facts to show that "the idea of universal agreement is, in fact the fundamental principle of Muslim constitutional theory."[vi] All this shows the "freedom" and equality that embodied in Islam. He also quoted the Prophet who is reported to have said: "I am a man like you; like you my forgiveness also depends on the mercy of "God". He also discussed the classical theory of Caliphate, particularly the theory presented by al-Ma¯wardi¯. Through out this discussion, he emphasized that "if the Caliph does not rule according to the law of Islam, or suffers from physical or mental infirmity, the Caliph is forfeited."[vii] Further he writes:
The origin of state then, according to Al- Ma¯wardi¯, is not force, but free consent of individual who unite to form a brotherhood, based upon legal equality, in order that each member of the brotherhood may work out the potentialities of his individuality under the law of Islam. Government, with him, is an artificial arrangement, and is divine only in the sense that the law of Islam-believed to have been revealed-demands peace and security.[viii]
Iqbal also discussed how all the officials are appointed or elected in the Caliphate and they are removed by the concerned authorities or people, as explained by al-Ma¯wardi¯. After having discussed all this, he remarked: "It is clear that the fundamental principle laid down in the Quran is the principle of election; the details or rather the translation of this principle into a workable scheme of Government is left to be determined by other considerations."[ix] Iqbal then pointed out that later the principle of election did not develop on democratic lines for two reasons. Firstly, the idea of election did not suit the Persians and the Mongols. Secondly, the Muslims during this period were preoccupied with political expansion.[x]
From the above views of Iqbal, many scholars including Maharuddi¯n contends that "Iqbal stresses the elective principle as the basis of Islamic democracy. Besides, he believes in the supremacy of the law and the equality of all Muslims."[xi]
In fact, according to Iqbal, it is Islam which has imported to the people their natural rights, equality, freedom and justice. He writes:
Liberty took its birth from its gracious message,
This sweet wine dripped from its grapes!
It was impatient of invidious distinctions.
Equality was implicit in its being!
The modern age, kindled a hundred lamps, has opened its eyes in its lap.[xii]
The above words of Iqbal throw abundance of light on the fact that the modern Western discourse on liberty and equality can be traced back to Islam, particularly from the time of the Prophet Mohammed and the period of Khulafa¯-i-Ra¯shidu¯n. It was during this period that the real meaning of liberty and equality was translated into practice. In other words, this principle of democracy-liberty and equality are not new to Islam at all. In fact, it is Islam which has presented these concepts to the world to liberate man from all sorts of man-centred authoritarianism and dominations. It clearly implies that Islam is totally against hereditary monarchies, dynasties, empires, military dictatorships and self-imposed rule over the people.[xiii] But, after the period of Khulafa¯-i-Ra¯shidu¯n (period of Four Rightly Guided Caliphate), the elective principle of Islamic polity was gradually relegated to background. Therefore, it is generally argued that one of the reasons of the decline of the Islamic Ummah can be traced back to the time of the Muslim history when the concept of Shu¯ra (consultation) is set aside and instead the elements of force or heredity were practically incorporated in the Muslim political history.[xiv] Hence, it is important to differentiate between the real Islamic political system and the Muslim political practices after the Rightly Guided Caliphate. It seems that
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